I love reviewing connecting people with books almost as much as I love reading them. That’s one reason I review so many books here on my blog. And since I’ve started doing my Kidlit Karma project, I’m doing a lot more reviews.
Just one problem: it’s not that easy to find things here on the old blog.
So if you need, say, a nonfiction book for a tween – sure I’ve got it. …Somewhere… Something had to be done.
Now I’ve created a master page for all my book reviews. Yay!
It’s sorted in two ways:
Ages and stages – this includes age ranges like baby, child, tween, teen, and adult. It also includes stages like early reading.
Topics – Jump here to get a collected list of all STEM, nonfiction, diverse books, and books for writers. Within each topic they’re sorted by age to make things easy.
I’ve been working hard on improving my writing lately. And my first stop when I want to learn about anything is usually a book. Today I gathered up my favorite writing craft books from all the various nooks and crannies and I’m going to share them with you.
Writing Picture Books: A Hands-on Guide from Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul – If you write picture books, you need this book. I read this late last year and I could feel myself leveling up as I read it. This book covers the basics of writing for kids, so it’s a great pick for a newer writer. But I think it really shines for people who are less knew but still have a lot of room for growth. (Which is all of us, right?) The tools and methods she discusses for revision have become staples of my process. Seriously, this is the best.
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by Willian Zinsser – This book is in about it’s billionth revision and jillionth reprinting. This book is geared towards writing for adults, but the advice is just as relevant if you’re writing to kids. At the end of the day, good writing is good writing and this will help you get there.
Anatomy of Nonfiction: Writing True Stories for Children by Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas – This primer covers everything you need to know to get started writing nonfiction for kids. It was a great book for me when I was getting started and it’s still a great book now that I have a few manuscripts under my belt.
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction by Lee Gutkind – This book is focused on a specific form of nonfiction writing – creative or narrative nonfiction. It’s nonfiction told in narrative form so the reader can step inside the story. Like On Writing Well, it’s geared for those writing for adults, but the techniques still apply when writing for younger audiences.
How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larson – When writing nonfiction you often send publishers a proposal rather than a completed manuscript. This book is everything you need to know to write a proposal. If you have no idea what I’m even talking about, this would be a good place to start. It’s thorough but written to be an easy read and includes lots of helpful samples from real proposals.
The Weekend Book Proposal: How to Write a Winning Proposal in 48 hours and Sell Your Book by Ryan G. Van Cleave – If you want a lighter version to get you started on your book proposal, this might be the book for you. The title is a bit misleading. That means 48 working hours. Maybe some people work around the clock on the weekend but I for one like sleep and food. Misleading title aside, it’s a really helpful book and would be fine for someone just starting out with writing proposals.
Books for authors ready to submit:
Once you’ve gotten your manuscript or proposal squeaky clean and ready to send out, you’ll need to figure out how to get it into the hands of the agent or editor of your dreams. These books are designed exactly for that. They’re updated every year to keep up with changes in the market.
Use idle time in your schedule. Find pockets of time where you’re otherwise idle and put them to use. Riding mass transit, eating a meal alone, and watching your kids play at the park are all times when you could be reading. It takes at least one cup pot of coffee for me to gain consciousness. So I often start the day with a cup of black coffee and a book.
Keep a book on hand. It’s old advice, but good advice. If you have a book on hand, you can put unexpected down time to use instead of whiling it away on your phone. Book reading apps mean no weight to carry around.
Prioritize reading. If reading is important to you, you need to make time for it. Most of us spend a lot of time with media. Will binge watching Netflix improve your life? Will more facebook help you achieve your goals? Make sure you’re spending time on things that are important to you.
Audio books. Sometimes your hands are full but your mind is not. Gym time, car rides, gardening, and walking the dogs are all times when you could be listening to a book.
Read several books at once. I read four books at a time: a fiction book, a research book, a writerly book, and an audiobook. Often research books and writerly books are dense. Not the best books for when my attention is divided or when I’m tired. Fiction is fluffier and better suited for these times. Audio books make use of gym time and my rare solo car ride. Reading multiple books means I can use all available reading time. Limiting myself to one in each category means I don’t lose focus. I have a much larger pile of books that are queued up after these are done.
There you have it. Not magic. Just spending time wisely and making use of small bits of time that would otherwise be lost to facebook.
Do you have any secrets for getting more reading done?
Last year I gifted myself a few days of sloth for the holidays. No projects, no deadlines, and few obligations. For someone who usually runs at full throttle, the downtime was amazing. I read books, watched movies, and enjoyed a much slower pace. After a few days my sloth account was full and I jumped back into the new year recharged.
This year I knew it was coming and spent days eagerly planning to be slothful. (How ironic is that?) I prepped myself with a stack of books, a pile of movies, and a knitting project or two. This year I couldn’t fit in days of complete slothfulness due to obligations and deadlines. I did manage a couple of weeks of semi-slothfulness, though.
So here’s what Sloth 2015 looked like:
“Waistcoats and Weaponry“(Finishing School book 3) by Gail Carriger – I’ve been tearing through this series as quickly as I can get my hands on it.
“George’s Secret Key to the Universe” by Lucy and Stephen Hawking – Yes, that Stephen Hawking. Turns out his daughter writes novels. This is a rare gem – a kid’s book that doesn’t sacrifice good storytelling for good science.
“Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?” by Timothy Verstynen and Bradley Voytek – What happens in the brain to turn a person into a zombie? Find out along with this accessible read. (TL;DR: check out the TedEX talk for part of the answer.)
“Voyager” (Outlander book 3) by Diana Gabaldon – This epic series is addictive. Do not attempt unless you have the next 48 hours cleared. No really. (I’ve been working on the series for a couple of years for just this reason.)
Star Wars – We began introducing our kids to the Star Wars movies. It’s important to start your nerdlings on the proper path from a young age.
Crash course Astronomy – Yes, the whole series. (Ok, I skipped over a few early ones.) This is big science explained in layman’s terms.
It’s been a dog-centric week for me. I wasn’t joking about the new puppy. The Isaacs household has gone from zero dogs to two young dogs in under two weeks. Our home is much happier with dogs in it. It’s also a lot muddier. And a bit more hectic.
New Skete is an Orthodox Christian monastery in upstate New York. The Monks there have been breeding and training dogs for 40 years.Their books are about more than just basic training, though. They books focus on understanding and living with dogs. They’re equal parts training, philosophy, and natural history.
A couple of years ago our family visited New Skete. A family vacation took us within driving distance on a Sunday morning. The church was resplendent. The service was reverent. The grounds were beautiful. Unlucky for us, our unplanned visit was the same day they all left on retreat. Someday I’d like to go back to see more. And maybe get a peek at their dogs.